No one tells you the truth about what pregnancy does to your body. I went into it expecting a cute little belly bump followed by an even cuter little baby nine months later. The cute baby part was right (I had two cute babies actually) but I was not even remotely prepared for all those “My Body is a Science Project” things no one told me about. Like my foot growing an entire shoe size, or the joys of pregnancy constipation, or the cruel joke nursing plays on your unsuspecting ta-tas.
But the biggest shocker for me was a little thing called “mom’s apron,” which is a euphemism for the loose, saggy skin that remains under some women’s belly button after having a baby. Let me be clear here: Pregnancy, while difficult, is also the most incredible experience a woman can go through, and my kids are my greatest accomplishment; but that doesn’t mean I want to have saggy skin on my belly for the rest of my life as a reminder of the experience! The baby’s moved out of my womb and into the world; the mom’s apron can exit my body as well.
The “Mommy Special” is a nickname for the surgical procedures to fix sagging ta-tas and remove excess skin around the tummy. And, full disclosure here, some of that skin had to do with the fact that I used to be 50 lbs. overweight.
But I didn’t just go in for plastic surgery after my second kid; I felt like I needed to get myself sorted out first. I changed my unhealthy lifestyle, learned how to eat clean, joined a women’s bodybuilding team, and am now a personal trainer and fitness blogger to help other people become healthy. Diet, exercise and positive thinking can do amazing things. And yet.
When I did a push up my chest would go up but the the skin from my stomach was still hanging out on the floor. Damnit!
This made me do a little research. According to WebMD, in the dermis level, collagen and elastin are the two proteins that make up the skin’s fountain of youth.
Collagen gives skin that “pump” look. Over time it, unfortunately, breaks down, which is why you get wrinkles.
When you hear elastin, think “elastic” because it is the stretchy part of your skin that gives it form and shape. When a woman gets pregnant or a person gains weight, the skin is able to stretch to accommodate this, but after the baby is born and the weight is lost, it doesn’t always fully snap back into the same condition it was in prior to that.
Time may heal all wounds, but it won’t get rid of excess skin. It takes two years for extra skin to be reabsorbed into the body (kinda creepy, huh?) but a lot of times this never fully happens either, depending on how much weight you gained/lost and your age. (This is why most of my mommy friends say things like, “my last pregnancy was the one that did me in.”)
The first thing I tried was skin tightening. This is a non-where a laser is beamed over your stomach, which stimulates collagen growth in your skin, reducing the sagging. It needs to be done in three separate treatments about 3 weeks apart. The typical cost for this is about $1,500 but I actually got a sponsorship for mine. (Let’s hear it for sponsoring bloggers!)
It hurt, but wasn’t awful. I noticed that it helped a bit above my bellybutton but nothing was helping that loose skin below it. At that point my only hope was surgical.
So I began thinking, the Mommy Special might be a nice 39th birthday gift to myself.
I immediately began to talk myself out of it. My husband will think it’s too expensive. My mother will freak out. What will people say about me if they knew? I pictured the scene at church, encircled by angelic looking people with sad, sad faces saying aloud, “Dear Jesus, please pray for Lisa and her vanity issues.”
I tried to convince myself to just do nothing to keep everyone else happy and accept that I would just be annoyed every time I took a shower for the rest of my life. And then I thought…why would I do that?
Through my weight loss journey I learned a couple of things. One is that you can’t live your life trying to please other people. Someone will be always be unhappy with some of your decisions. You have to do what’s right for you.
The other thing I realized is that complaining is a waste of time and if you have the ability to fix something, then stop complaining and take action!
So I got the Mommy Special for my 39th birthday and I’ve been pretty happy with the results ever since. My doctor cut off about a pound and half of loose skin that was just hanging out below my bellybutton. This is what I looked like three weeks after the surgery.
Questions People Ask Me:
- Will a tummy tuck give you six pack abs? Nope. Eating clean and doing crunches will though. The only thing the surgery does is cut off the loose, sagging skin. To demonstrate this I’m posting several pre and post surgery pictures of my abs. This first picture was from my third bodybuilding competition, which was before surgery. You can see that my abs are toned and they got that way just with diet and exercise. It’s important to show you this because I don’t want you to feel like you have to get surgery to have a flat tummy. You can absolutely get six-pack abs without surgery!
- Once you get the surgery, does your stomach stay that way forever? NO! A big N-O! I once knew a woman who had done some crazy fad diet where she got shots and ate only 600 calories a day and lost a ton of weight. She got the tummy tuck immediately after and when she stopped the crazy diet she gained all the weight back and was over 200 lbs. within a year. All a tummy tuck does is remove loose skin. If you make poor eating choices you will gain back the weight and you skin will stretch to accommodate. So you should not even think about getting this done until you know that you can maintain a healthy lifestyle or it will become a $10,000 mistake.
- Does the surgery hurt? Hell yes – it’s surgery! For a week I was pretty much confined to my bed and had to drain the fluid from the surgery area a couple times a day. By the end of the week I was walking around and three weeks later I was able to do modified workouts. (My doctor trained at the same gym as me, so that was pretty helpful.)
- Does your stomach look like it did before having babies? Not exactly. I have a scar, albeit a very thin one, that goes from one hip to the other and a line from that scar to about two inches below my “new” bellybutton.
- New bellybutton? The plastic surgeon cuts your skin and then yanks it down, so she has to cut a new hole for your bellybutton. This is the only part that looks a little weird. Overall though you’d barely notice my scar unless you were looking for it.
- How much does it cost? Prices vary by where you live and what you get done. My surgery cost about $10k and included the tummy tuck and implants. I financed it through Care Credit. (Yes, there is financing for this stuff.). I paid it off in about 18 months. Ten thousand dollars is a lot to finance for a midlife crisis, but in my defense, it’s way less expensive than having an oops-baby. Also, it is cheaper than my husband’s midlife crisis Corvette.
- What did your mom say?
Honestly, I was really nervous to tell her that I was having plastic surgery because I thought she would be disappointed in me. Guess what? She was only concerned about the health considerations, i.e. – if I got implants would I still be able to get accurate mammograms. Once I told her the safety rates, she was fine. And it was pretty funny – she took me bra shopping and said, “I’ve been waiting to do this with you since you were 12!” Some pre-teens get visited by the Boobie Fairy; others of us have to pay her off around our 40th birthday.
- Did you do this to win bodybuilding competitions? Do you think it helps? No, I didn’t do this to win a bodybuilding competition. Bodybuilding is a fun sport for me; it certainly isn’t something I’d go under the knife for! This may sound cliché but I did it for me and it works for me. Before I used to get out of the shower and frown at my reflection and waste time and energy feeling bad about it. Now I get out of the shower and barely even look in the mirror except to make sure I don’t have spinach between my teeth. I like the way I look.
As for whether or not the mommy special will help you win competitions, my honest answer is no. I’ve come in first place, dead last and everywhere in-between and that’s after the surgery. Bodybuilding looks at your overall physique and how much confidence you have on stage and then compares you with the other 80 women standing on stage. You never know who’s going to stand next to you.
- Would I recommend this surgery to other women? I would never recommend surgery to anyone because a) I’m not a doctor and b) it’s such a personal decision. I have some mommy friends who wear their loose skin like a badge of honor.
Kudos to them! That works for them but not me. And you need to figure out what’s right for you. Before you decide to get the surgery I’d suggest you are at a healthy weight that you can maintain and that you meet with several board certified surgeons for consultations before making any decisions.
As for me, I love the skin I’m in. The mommy special was right for me. So is the bodybuilding lifestyle, which is what keeps me healthy and happy.
If you are interested in learning about my online customized personal training program, or my 30 Day Weight Loss program click here to order now: SLI Method.
Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two….and Original Cast Member of AMERICAN GRIT, starring John Cena, on FOX!!!
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